From the Lower East Side to Hollywood by Paul Buhle
Jews in American Popular Culture

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The contribution by Jews to American popular culture is widely acknowledged yet scarcely documented. This is the first comprehensive investigation of the formative Jewish influence upon the rise and development of American popular culture, drawing upon extensive oral histories with several generations of Jewish artists, little-utilized Yiddish scholarship, and the author’s own connections with today’s comic-strip artists. Buhle shows how the rich legacy of Yiddish prepared would-be artists to absorb the cultures of their surrounding environments, seeing the world through the eyes of others, and producing the talent required for theater, films, television, popular music and comics.

Buhle suggests that “premodern” and “postmodern” are arbitrary designations here, because the self-reflective content has always radiated an inner Jewishness. From Sholem Aleichem (who died in the Bronx) to Gertrude Berg, Woody Allen and Tony Kushner, from John Garfield to Roseanne Barr and Rube Goldberg to Cyndi Lauper, the cutting edge is never too far from home and humane antidotes to the pains of a troubled world. Contradictions between Jewish avant-garde and kitsch, mogul and artist, orthodoxy and heresy are given new sense here in the scope of cultural output adopted by ordinary Americans as their own. Illustrated with the work of Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Ben Katchor, Trina Robbins and others, From the Lower East Side to Hollywood is full of humor and insight into the power of popular art to spark insight and encourage the endless quest for freedom.

About Paul Buhle

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Ruth Conniff is the Political Editor of the Progressive. In 2011, the editors of Madison Magazine named Conniff's coverage of the crisis in Wisconsin the "Best in Madison." Mari Jo Buhle is Emerita Professor of History and American Civilization at Brown University, retired to Madison, Wisconsin. Her books include Women and American Socialism. Simon Hardy is a spokesperson for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) in the UK, a student at Westminster University and a member of the group Workers' Power. Frank Emspak, emeritus faculty, UW School for Workers, is currently the producer of Workers Independent News (WIN), headquartered in Madison. Ashok Kumar is a former Dane County Supervisor (District 5) and was the Education Officer of the London School of Economics Students' Union during the height of the UK student unrest in 2010. Tom Morello, the lead guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, now records under the name Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman. His most recent album is World Wide Rebel Songs. David Poklinkowski is a member of the Executive Board of the South Central Federation of Labor, has been President and Business Manager of IBEW Local 2304 in Madison since 1985, and has been Secretary of the Utility Workers Coalition-a coalition of utility unions from across the Midwest-since 1992. Matthew Rothschild has worked at The Progressive since 1983 and has been the editor since 1984. He is the author of You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression and the editor of Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive Magazine, 1909-2009. Sharon Rudahl, an art editor of the Madison alternative weekly Takeover, has contributed widely to comic art anthologies, and wrote and drew A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman. Charity A. Schmidt is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an active member of the Teaching Assistants' Association (TAA) and continues to organize with various community groups in the ongoing Wisconsin struggle. Kim Scipes is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central in Westville, Indiana, and Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the National Writers Union. His latest book is AFL-CIO's Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage? Nick Thorkelson, the first Underground Comix artist in Madison, drew The Underhanded History of the USA and illustrated The Earth Belongs to the People. Paul Buhle, formerly Senior Lecturer at Brown University, produces radical comics, has written and edited many books, and is the coedtior, most recently, of It Started in Wisconsin. With Mari Jo Buhle, he is the coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left. He lives in Madison. John Nichols is a columnist for the The Wisconsin State Journal and Madison.Com, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine, a contributing writer for the Progressive and In These Times, and the associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. He's the author of several books, including The Death and Life of American Journalism, The Genius of Impeachment and The "S" Word. Michael Moore, a filmmaker, author and progressive-radical commentator on politics, has written and occasionally starred in documentary films. He directed and produced Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and Capitalism: A Love Story. Patrick Barrett is Administrative Director of the A. E. Havens Center for the Study of Social Structure and Social Change and an instructor in the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mary Bottari is the Director of the Center for Media and Democracy's Real Economy Project and works on the CMD websites, and Roger Bybee edited the weekly Racine Labor, 1979-93, and served as Communications Director of three statewide pro-labor organizations. He is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee. Gary Dumm, a comic artist and long-time collaborator with the late Harvey Pekar, drew large portions of Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History, and has contributed widely to other comic art anthologies.
Published June 26, 1905 by Verso (London). 304 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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Following up on his Radical Hollywood, Buhle, who teaches at Brown University, delivers a rambling, factoid-driven account of the contributions American Jews have made to music, theater, film, radio, television and graphic arts.

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