It’s the first day of my Christmas vacation. I love it. Well, I loved it until 5:30 a.m., when I stepped out onto my back porch to let Rousseau out, and promptly fell down the stairs. It was fantastic.

So I decided to treat myself to some coffee and extended quiet time, along with a huge dose of feeling sorry for myself and my sore ribs, janked back and neck, and smashed-up ankle. I ended up on, and got lost in a wonderful wildernesss for two hours.

I believe it’s crucial that our myriad social customs in America — age-old and often passed down by oral tradition only — be preserved before they’re irretrievably lost. The people at FolkStreams have put together a large collection of documentary films about anything and everything having to do with the American experience, and they’re all available for viewing online. Easy to disappear for hours, at least for me. From their site: has two goals. One is to build a national preserve of hard-to-find documentary films about American folk or roots cultures. The other is to give them renewed life by streaming them on the internet. The films were produced by independent filmmakers in a golden age that began in the 1960s and was made possible by the development first of portable cameras and then capacity for synch sound. Their films focus on the culture, struggles, and arts of unnoticed Americans from many different regions and communities.”

This morning, I watched three films. One featured a group of black girls on a playground in 1968. The dynamic of play and interaction between them was fascinating. Then I watched a storyteller/singer spin the tale of Frankie Silver, a North Carolina woman who purportedly killed her husband and was hanged in 1833. Finally, I learned about gandy dancers on the railroads during the first half of the 20th century. Amazing stuff.

I highly recommend this site to anyone with an interest in little-known components of American cultural history; anything from old carnival barks to a cappella ballad singing in the Appalachians, to the Sacred Harp or Delta blues traditions. In some cases, these films — with priceless interviews and vintage film footage — are all that’s left.

I know it’s not Avatar or Sherlock Holmes, but satisfying and educational nonetheless. Thumbs up.

Happy Saturday — I’m off to replace the ice in my sock.

Fink ouch.

6 thoughts on “Addictive

  1. BoomR

    Interesting to see all the Texas & Dallas stuff on there! I’m listening to Deep Ellum Blues. DE is quite the trendy part of town – good food, lots of live music, clubs, shops, etc. Many of the warehouses in the area have been or are being converted into upscale apartments & condos. We’ll take a spin through there while you’re in town :-)

      1. Rat Fink Post author

        I would love to see DE when we’re down there! And thanks, luv. It’s a miiiiiiiighty dandy morning – my back and neck are as stiff as an old ironing board, but I knew that would happen after yesterday’s header. I’m surprised I dint knock my block clean off!

        Love you – enjoy your Sunday! (And how about them Dallas Cowboys??)

  2. RD

    Whoa, I hope the Fink is not hurt from that fall. What a horrible way to begin the new day. I’m going to mark the web site you referred to and check it out. Sounds really interesting. We’re staying overnight in Statesville, NC — snow on the ground here, and I’m sure we’ll see more tomorrow as we venture into Virginia and W. Va. headed for Atown via I 77. And to Mavis and her hubby — Congrats on your decision. The Truth Is… you can kick the habit and be smoke free, one day at a time!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Hey I remember going through “Statesvul.” And you guys take it slow coming home. It’s not too bad here this morning: 28 right now with a high of 32. At least the salt’s working. Be careful and let me know when you get settled in…we have a java date.

  3. Artillius Merchclod

    Thanks for link to folkstreams. I enjoyed a good documentary about skiff boat making on the New Jersey shore.


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