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The Library of Nicholas II, tucked away in a corner of the Winter Palace which is now the home of the Государственный Эрмитаж.

This is my favourite room at the Hermitage – there are so many (many) opulent and beautiful rooms here, but this one is one of the smallest and quietest and, in a way, the most thoughtful and carefully crafted in its atmosphere.


100 years ago today, black activists took to the streets to protest lynching and anti-black violence

  • In early July 1917, mobs of white workers in East St. Louis, Illinois, inflicted what was arguably the most heinous spate of racial violence in the 20th century. 
  • The unionized workers were whipped into a murderous frenzy after African-Americans replaced them on their jobs while they were on strike for better conditions at a local bauxite factory.
  • Although some historians have asserted that more than 100 blacks were killed, the official death toll was 39. Some of them died by lynching. Hundreds more were burned, beaten or shot at.
  • Ultimately, many black families fled East St. Louis, as National Guardsmen had proven ineffective at stopping the white mobs’ attacks.
  • The violence prompted the NAACP, then a young civil rights organization that would become the nation’s largest, to dispatch sociologist and civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois. 
  • His report on the riots came with a call to action for black New Yorkers, who staged the city’s first major protest against lynching and other anti-black violence, 100 years ago Friday. Read more (7/28/17)

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St. Vincent to direct gender-swapped adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

The studio is putting a twist on the classic Victorian age story of a hedonistic man whose self-portrait ages while he stays eternally young. In this project, the title character will be a woman.

The film will be directed by Annie Clark, a.k.a St. Vincent, the experimental rock multi-instrumentalist. Her album, the self-titled “St. Vincent,” won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2015. She has been the recipient of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and the Q Maverick award, both given for outstanding innovation in the arts.

She made her filmmaking debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where her short “Birthday Party,” premiered as a part of the female-driven “XX” horror anthology. She co-wrote, scored and directed the film, with Melanie Lynskey, Joe Swanberg and Sheila Vand starring. “XX” became available on Netflix in March.