Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Heroines don’t come easy. An excellent article by Jody Rosen in this weekend’s New York Times advances vaudeville star Sophie Tucker — whose early recordings have just been re-released — as an early herald of pop modernity and an example of startlingly contemporary, sexually confident feminism. It also points out troubling facets of her history. Can a woman who began her career in blackface be reclaimed?
Tucker, who started performing in the 1900s and continued until her 1966 death, prefigured the shift in gender roles that marked the 20th century. Rosen locates her in a larger movement of performers who “flouted 19th-century ideals of demure femininity.” In Tucker’s case, that included numbers like “I Ain’t Taking Orders From No-One” about the joys of autonomy and casual sex and “That Lovin’ Soul Kiss,” a double-edged number about receiving oral attentions — “Sip the honey divine for a long time / one, two, and three / now, longer.” She was big, and proud of her weight; she aged, and flaunted her aging; she was unabashedly funny, carnal, and in control. In an age of pop starlets whose sexuality is Photoshopped and endlessly audience-tested, Tucker’s brashness isn’t just a history lesson, but a relief.
Yet there is the blackface. Rosen begins his piece with a list of Tucker’s nicknames, but leaves one out: “Queen of Coon Shouters.” Her fame came through minstrelsy. One story is that Tucker was told to do this because she was “fat and ugly.” But biographer Armond Fields contends that she was told to put on blackface, not because she was fat, but because she was Jewish. The burnt cork did not hide pure privilege, but a different kind of marginalization, less acceptable because it was authentic.
Blackface is an ugly part of our entertainment history (and has not left us: Next to Rosen’s piece, you’ll find a profile of Mike Henry, the white voice actor who plays the black lead of Seth McFarlane’s new, “post-PC” “The Cleveland Show” and just last night on “Mad Men,” Roger performed an uncomfortable blackface routine for his new wife). Still, the move toward authenticity is what marks Tucker’s career. She ditched blackface around 1909. She also reclaimed Jewishness, with her hit “My Yiddische Momma.” At first, her bossiness and appetite may have been acceptable because they promoted a stereotype: a big, sassy, sexual black woman was easy to laugh at. As Tucker became more powerful she began to present these qualities, not as attributes of a character, but as attributes of Sophie Tucker. And that, without letting Tucker off the hook, makes her worthy of lasting consideration.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.