Oakland now and then

Leonard K. writes:

Oakland, California is the fourth most dangerous city in the United States.

It has not always been like that. I recently came across an amazing picture made in 1940, during a concert by Benny Goodman. It’s hard to believe the photo was taken in Oakland—the contrast with the current population is striking!


LA writes:

All those white people, dressed so neatly, and the men with their weird, neatly combed-back hair—they all look like, you know, Authoritarian Personalities. They look like Nazis! In 1940 America was a Nazi country, just as Philip Roth portrayed it in The Plot Against America. But how was it, then, that America fought and defeated Nazi Germany? Doesn’t matter. Consider the facts. America in 1940 was sexually repressed. Most women did not sleep with a man before they married him. Blacks were discriminated against (meaning that blacks were not free to carry out mob assaults on whites at will—how terrible!). Oakland had no Ebonics. Homosexuality was frowned upon and forced into the shadows. And women, I shudder to think of it, were as oppressed and downtrodden as 18th century Irish peasants. Face it—America was a Nazi country! How fortunate we are to have left that behind us.

Of course, not all of it has been left behind. The job is still not finished. Much work remains to be done. Look at all those extremist Republicans out there. How do we know they’re extremist? Why, they’re trying to take away women’s right to birth control!

- end of initial entry -

June 24

Laura Wood writes:

I liked your post on that Oakland photograph. It used to be a Nazi was someone who condoned mass murder. Now a Nazi is someone who thinks women look better in dresses.

Kevin H. writes:

Most of your regular readers will pick up on your sarcasm right away but some newcomers will not. I suggest you add a disclaimer of sorts, perhaps (sarc.) or something similar. I can see dim wits running down the street screaming “look what this Auster guy said.”

LA replies:

Given my heavy, obvious irony, if someone does not recognize it as irony, I must sadly say that there is no hope for him.

(Please note: the above is an ironic, not a literal, statement.)

* * *

When the entry was originally posted, the photo had to be made smaller smaller to fit on VFR’s page, and the result was fuzzier than the original. Gintas undertook to get a sharper result. He wrote:

I took your original and changed it to 640 x 400, with 200 pixels per inch. It’s attached. It looks no better than the one on VFR. Playing with it in Paint.NET was the same. The best result came using “Best Quality” as the resampling setting. Using “Nearest Neighbor” is a bit rougher looking. Bicubic and Bilinear don’t seem to make much difference from “Best Quality”.

It looks a little better if I maintain the aspect ratio (size to 640x493). That’s attached, too. The vertical squeezing adds some distortion—it’s fewer pixels.

LA replied:

I thought they both looked better. I’ve posted the one with the stretched out vertical, it’s definitely better, but I think everyone looks elongated. However, maybe that adds to the impression of tall thin Nordic Nazi types.

Gintas replies:

It’s not stretched out. It’s the same aspect ratio as the original. The one on VFR was squeezed, making the people look fatter (more like Americans today). Yes, people were thinner back then—another damning piece of evidence that they were all Nazis.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 23, 2012 05:06 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):