February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Leap \leep\ verb; to spring through the air from one point or position to another (from Old English, “hleapan,” akin to Old High German, “hlouffan,” meaning “to run”).

February 29 is one of those dates, like November 11, or Friday the 13th, or the summer solstice, that seems more freighted with possibilities, both good and bad, than other days of the year. And because the 29th day of the second month only comes around every four years — an attempt by humans to make up for the fact that a year is not, strictly speaking, comprised of 365 days, but 365 and a quarter days (it’s math, look it up) — Leap Day can sometimes feel like a gift. An extra day added to the calendar. A full 24 hours that we didn’t have last year and that we won’t have next year, in which we might do … anything.

Here, then, in celebration of Leap Year, and of Leap Day, and of the wonderful act of simply leaping about, LIFE.com respectfully offers a gallery of pictures that feel full of possibilities: images that, for the most part, try to approximate what Wordsworth might have been driving at when he wrote, more than 200 years ago, “My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky.”

Or, as House of Pain put it — more succinctly, if less poetically — in 1992: Jump around!

Fred Astaire executes a seemingly effortless leap in the 1946 film, Blue Skies

A multiple exposure shot of a gymnast jumping on a trampoline in 1960

Alice Marble, No. 1 American women's tennis player, leaps over the net in 1939

Dance class, 1952

Architect and designer Frank Gehry jumps on a desk — part of his line of cardboard furniture — in 1972

Oil Crisis of 1973 in the USA

The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC (consisting of the Arab members of OPEC, plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia) proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the U.S. actions seen as initiating the oil embargo and the long term possibility of high oil prices, disrupted supply and recession, a strong rift was created within NATO. Additionally, some European nations and Japan sought to disassociate themselves from the U.S. Middle East policy. Arab oil producers had also linked the end of the embargo with successful U.S. efforts to create peace in the Middle East, which complicated the situation. To address these developments, the Nixon Administration began parallel negotiations with both Arab oil producers to end the embargo, and with Egypt, Syria, and Israel to arrange an Israeli pull back from the Sinai and the Golan Heights after the fighting stopped. By January 18, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had negotiated an Israeli troop withdrawal from parts of the Sinai. The promise of a negotiated settlement between Israel and Syria was sufficient to convince Arab oil producers to lift the embargo in March 1974. By May, Israel agreed to withdraw from some parts of the Golan Heights. (Wikipedia)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, 1938

The terms "Mardi Gras", "Mardi Gras season", and "Carnival season", in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday; in English the day is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning "confess." Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins. (Wikipedia)

Relatively early on in its remarkable, decades-long run as a weekly magazine, LIFE turned its eye toward always-enticing, ever-vivid New Orleans and that great city’s signature, defining event: Mardi Gras. In February, 1938, editors sent photographer William Vandivert (later a charter member of Magnum) to the Big Easy to chronicle the carnival — and to show LIFE’s readers how one American city, more Caribbean than Southern in so many ways, maintained a centuries-old tradition of refined debauchery and plain, unalloyed fun in the midst of the Great Depression.

February 28, 2012

Old Pictures of People Watching TV

These interesting vintage photos show how people watched TV in the past.

Picketing workers watch TV in a tent outside the gates of a U.S. Steel plant in Gary, Indiana, during a strike in 1959

A boy watches TV in an appliance store window in 1948

An adopted Korean war orphan, Kang Koo Ri, watches television in his new home in Los Angeles in 1956

Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, watch the 1960 GOP convention in Chicago from their hotel suite

A performing chimpanzee named Zippy watches TV in 1955

February 27, 2012

30 Stunning Vintage Photos of Everyday Life in London in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries by John Thomson

John Thomson (14 June 1837 – 29 September 1921) was a pioneering Scottish photographer, geographer and traveller. He was one of the first photographers to travel to the Far East, documenting the people, landscapes and artifacts of eastern cultures. Upon returning home, his work among the street people of London cemented his reputation, and is regarded as a classic instance of social documentary which laid the foundations for photojournalism. He went on to become a portrait photographer of High Society in Mayfair, gaining the Royal Warrant in 1881.

February 26, 2012

Yankees - Spring Training in Florida, 1961

In 1961, during spring training in Florida, LIFE gave 25-year-old Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek a camera and asked him to photograph his teammates: Mantle, Berra, Maris, Ford, and the rest of the players on what would, in time, be seen as one of the greatest teams in baseball history.


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