Thursday, February 29, 2024

What We're Reading: February 2024

Here are some articles we've been reading this February. We'll start with the view from the East Coast with articles from Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Washington Post, and travel back to the West Coast with articles from the San Francisco Chronicle and then hop across the pond to the Economist. We'll finish off with a Doja Cat palette cleanser. Articles are linked through SFPL databases whenever possible, so get your library card ready if you're reading from home.

Tech Millionaires Take On Politicians in a Fight to Fix San Francisco

Executives are trying to combat crime, drug abuse and homelessness. ‘Enough is enough, we’re getting involved in the muck.’

Wall Street Journal,  February 9, 2024
Written by the WSJ's tech reporter based in San Francisco, Preetika Rana, this article doesn't tell us anything we don't know, but it summarizes the situation from a vantage of a newspaper concerned with money stuff published three-thousand miles away. After all, the Guardian/Mission Local reported on the issue this month as well, and our own San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Standard have been reporting on the tech money and interests pouring into our big election year. The stand-out photographs and graphics from the web version of the WSJ article make it mention-worthy (even though the photos of Civic Center are circa 2020 and do not reflect the current scene). 


Why Don’t We Hang Out Anymore?

Adults need to relax and do nothing together, just like kids do.

Well newsletter, New York Times, February 9, 2024  

Although SFPL recently began offering the digital replica of the daily New York Times paper in PressReader, this article about building relationships with friends by doing mundane tasks together--or nothing at all--is a subscriber-only newsletter that one SFPL librarian subscribes to, and is shared for your convenience. In the article, the author talks about the ideas found in the book Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time by Sheila Liming (available in many formats through SFPL) and offers some suggestions for ways to kill time with your friends like we use to do as teenagers. The ideas of friendship explored in the article pair well with a Wall Street Journal piece from last month called, "They’re in Your Group Chat. But Are They Really Your Friends?"


Fani Willis's outrage was precise and laser-focused on the stand

Washington Post, February 15, 2024

This is what WaPo calls a "perspective piece" by their senior critic-at-large, Robin Givhan so if you're looking for straight up facts about Willis taking the stand, keep moving. But if you're looking for one hell of a description of the feeling in that room when Willis took the stand, look no further. The best part is when Givhan subtly defends Willis's use of cash by alluding to all the reasons a woman of color would rely on cash that Willis didn't mention, all of which come back to the structural racism and misogyny that exist in the American banking system.


How Can City Be Both Beautiful and Ugly?

San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 2024

Regular "Native Son" columnist Carl Nolte offers a poetic reflection on the dichotomy we have here in our urban reality as he describes what he sees as he goes about his business one day: those people hauling five foot sacks of recyclables on the 24 bus line; eleven ships floating on a slate-grey bay. Part philosophical musing, part observation, Nolte reminds us that sometimes the most important thing you can do is look around and bear witness. Someone has to remember the broken down gas stations and how the hustle and bustle is returning to Market Street. Otherwise we loose our footing in the flow of time and can't mark change.


Comeback City 

The Economist, February 17, 2024 

Cited in Nolte's column linked above, this Economist article--published in London, England as Nolte points out-- heralds San Francisco's comeback, spurning the doom loop narrative while also acknowledging what the city has been through in the past five years. Take it from people who work at the Main Library in Civic Center: we need this positivity. 

All these publications from outside California have something to say about our "cool, grey city of love," and everyday we're having our own experiences living here that confirm or refute what the papers are saying, making those of us who observe and bear witness even that much more important.   


DOJA CAT is Reimagining POP STARDOM...

Harper's Bazaar, September 2023 

For something completely different to top off this post, we're going back to September of last year because one of the librarians recently found her copy of the Icon Issue with Doja Cat on the cover under a pile of magazines under her coffee table. Doja Cat's voice in the interview is like a palate cleanser after mulling over the heady issues of San Francisco's image. She says, "I love love.... I'm learning to love myself, so the way that I love other people is very different. I don't feel like a lost little teen. I feel like a woman who is coming into her own." 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Watch the Recording of our Studio Visit with Faheem Majeed

If you missed our program last Friday on the sculpture of Black newspapers, Freedom's Stand, now is your chance to watch the recording and get some background on why we brought this program to SFPL. 

New York City's iconic raised park, The High Line, where the sculpture is on exhibit, released an email heralding the recording on Saturday 2/24/24:

Faheem Majeed, Freedom's Stand, 2022. Photo by Lawrence Sumulong.

The inspiration and research behind Faheem Majeed's "Freedom Stand"

One hundred and eighty-seven different newspaper front pages have graced Faheem Majeed’s towering Freedom’s Stand over the course of the past year. From prominent people to notable events, these newspapers have given snapshots of US history through the lenses and words of Black America—spanning the last 200 years and from all across the 50 states.

“The Black voice is not myopic—it’s expansive and also conflicting,” Majeed says of the materials he found during the making of Freedom’s Stand. “That’s what’s so exciting about this [project]… The expanse is really fascinating to think about, [especially] when the Black voice is oftentimes pigeonholed and controlled.”

Watch this recent San Francisco Public Library talk with Majeed where he and his research assistant, Shola Jimoh, delve into the inspiration and the archival research behind his artwork for the High Line.


From one coast to another, newspapers ring out as an insight of the Black view on the nation's news. Watch the talk and tell us what you think of the sculpture and the research process in the comments. 

Activity: Women’s Magazines and Feminism, 19th Century to the Present


Activity: Women’s Magazines and Feminism, 19th Century to the Present

Learning Studio—5th Floor, Main Library 
Tuesday, March 12, 12:30-1:30 p.m. & 
Friday, March 15, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Encore) 

This exact activity is offered twice.

Interact with a curated selection of women’s magazines from the library’s collection in this hands-on activity covering more than 150 years of publishing in the United States.  

For your awe and interrogation, fifteen different women’s magazines from the 1850s to 2020s invite your analysis. Learn about milestone moments in the history of publishing women’s magazines from a Magazines and Newspapers Center librarian. Following a librarian-created checklist, trace concepts of gender roles, feminine beauty and fashion, suffrage, women’s liberation and feminism through the spread of magazines both commercial and independent. Identify variations in editorial tone and graphic representation and question the motivation of each publication for embodying its respective attributes. Receive guidance on accessing the print issues of each magazine featured in the workshop through the library’s holdings, as well as how to access and view digitized versions of the magazines through the library’s website.

You are encouraged to bring your smartphone to snap photos of magazine content to share with other participants through the course of the activity.

Magazine titles include: 

  • Ladies’ American Magazine  
  • Godey’s Lady’s Book  
  • Ladies’ Home Journal  
  • Good Housekeeping  
  • Essence 
  • McCall’s 
  • Better Homes & Gardens 
  • Up from Under  
  • Playgirl Magazine
  • Bitch 
  • Ms. Magazine 
  • Harper’s Bazaar  
  • Women's Sports & Fitness 
  • Women’s Wear Daily 
  • Vogue 
  • Oprah Magazine 

Some photos from the librarian preparing for the program are below. Can you guess which decade of of them are from? 

See event listing on the master calendar:

View other Magazines and Newspapers Center programs on the SFPL event calendar under the What's News heading

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

New Digital Magazine Archives including VIBE, BLK, and Kuumba

San Francisco Public Library recently added three packages of digital magazine archives to its electronic resources, which means you have the backfiles of dozens of magazines available at the tip of your fingers.

The Magazine Archives 


Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive 1-4 (ProQuest)

89 publications covering music, television, and film. Enter into the database and click publications at the top to see all of the magazines available.

Health & Fitness Magazine Archive (ProQuest)

9 publications with coverage starting in 1950: Flex, Men's Fitness (UK), Men's Fitness (US), Men's Health, Prevention, Women's Health, The Women's Health Activist, Women's Health Weekly, and Zest.

LGBT Magazine Archive 1 & 2 (ProQuest)

44 publications mostly from cities across the US, with some coverage from Europe and Australia.  Anything That Moves and Homocore are two magazines in the archive published in San Francisco. 

Black Interest

Here are a couple highlights from the new databases to promote More Than A Month, the SFPL celebration of Black history and culture. 


"Time was, a rap artist in an expansive mood would call up some of his MC pals and have them flow over a track just to mix things up. Now, from producer-driven projects such as the current releases from Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs and DJ Clue to compilations like the Ruff Ryders' Ryde or Die Vol. 2 and 'big tent' albums like Dr. Dre 2001, guest appearances on hip hop albums are as much about corporate synergy as they are about giving shout-outs." - "Partners in Rhyme," Dec 1, 2000 issue of VIBE magazine

Reading VIBE from almost any point in the twelve year archive (1992-2014) is like reading something from a contemporary magazine, so often do the same themes of black celebrity, technology, and issues of inequality come up in the writing and photographs featured in the magazine. Even the graphic design of the magazine seems apt for the 2020s.
"... if I wanted to make money, I wouldn't be doing this at all and if I wanted to make money I would not choose documentary. I would tell anybody who's interested in documentaries, that is not the pursuit that you should follow in order to make lots of money," -- filmmaker Marlon Riggs in the April 1, 1990 issue of BLK magazine. (See Riggs documentaries available through SFPL.)
BLK was a black, queer interest magazine published in Los Angeles and is available full text in the magazine archive from Dec 1, 1988 (no. 1) - Mar 1, 1994 (Vol. 5, no. 3).

"Poetry is an essential nutrient to some; a new and as yet unexplored pleasure for others... Read these words aloud; share them with your brothers and sisters around you, and take them with you on the next stage of your journey." - The Editor, Mark Allen Haile, in the Jul 1, 1997 issue of Kuumba.
Kuumba was a poetry journal for black lesbians and gay men. It was an offshoot of BLK magazine, listed above, published in Los Angeles. There are a couple issues of this lit mag in the LGBT Magazine Archive from 1991 and 1997.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Speaker: Faheem Majeed’s Freedom’s Stand, A Sculpture of Black Newspapers


Speaker: Faheem Majeed’s Freedom’s Stand, A Sculpture of Black Newspapers

Friday, 2/16/2024
11:00 a.m.
Virtual Library
Unpack artist Faheem Majeed’s sculpture Freedom’s Stand to learn more about the significance of the African American press and how it inspires today’s modern artists. 

In September 2022 Majeed premiered the site-specific sculpture that features a rotating selection of front pages of historical and contemporary African American newspapers and magazines at the High Line in New York City, and the sculpture’s exhibition will close in April 2024. Learn how Majeed developed the idea for this sculpture’s content and form, and why he drew inspiration for the sculpture from the structures of the Dogon granaries in West Mali. Majeed will be joined by his research assistant Shola Jimoh to discuss the selection process for the publications and front-page headlines that have rotated through the display for the past year and a half. Go deeper as we investigate not only the informational value of Black newspapers, but also the social, spiritual and artistic significance these publications continue to bring to bear in our current culture. 


Faheem Majeed is an artist, educator, curator and community facilitator. He blends his unique experience as a non-profit administrator, curator and artist to create works that focus on institutional critique and exhibitions that leverage collaboration to engage his immediate community, as well as the broader community, in meaningful dialogue. He is the co-founder/co-director of the arts collective Floating Museum. Majeed received his BFA from Howard University and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).  

Shola Jimoh is currently a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University. She graduated from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2022, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health with the highest distinction. Under the leadership and guidance of Faheem Majeed, Shola has served as a research assistant on several interdisciplinary archival projects concerning black American (hi)stories within the arts and beyond.   


Faheem Majeed – Website | Faheem Majeed – Facebook | Faheem Majeed – Instagram  

Faheem Majeed, Freedom’s Stand, 2022. A High Line Commission. On view September 2022 – April 2024. Photo by Lawrence Sumulong. Courtesy of the High Line.

Faheem Majeed, Freedom’s Stand, 2022. A High Line Commission. On view September 2022 – April 2024. 📸: @timothyschenck. Courtesy of the High Line.

Faheem Majeed, Freedom’s Stand, 2022. A High Line Commission. On view September 2022 – April 2024. 📸: @timothyschenck. Courtesy of the High Line.

Faheem Majeed, Freedom’s Stand, 2022. A High Line Commission. On view September 2022 – April 2024. 📸: @timothyschenck. Courtesy of the High Line.

Faheem Majeed, Freedom’s Stand, 2022. A High Line Commission. On view September 2022 – April 2024. 📸: @timothyschenck. Courtesy of the High Line.


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

A Great Day in Harlem ~ Read the Original January, 1959 Esquire

This week the good news site The Attic put up a piece about a Great Day in Harlem.

They write:

“'The most iconic photograph in jazz history' was, like jazz itself, an improvisation.  Two dreamers at Esquire, needing a photo for their Golden Age of Jazz issue, decided to take a chance... 
Contacting club owners, the musicians’ union local, recording studios, and songwriters, Kane sent an open invitation with time and date.  10 a.m.  August 12.  Benton expected a dozen musicians might show.  But here they came. . . ”

What resulted was the stuff that magic's made out of: a photograph of all the living jazz legends in New York City immortalized as a great day in Harlem. The issue containing this photo, others, and more features on the golden age of jazz was published the following January, in 1959. 

You're in luck... to take a look yourself... all you need is a San Francisco Public Library card!

The Esquire digital archive of all magazine content from 1933 to 2014 is available through the SFPL databases.

On view for you:  

Esquire January, 1959

Click the link above to view the collection of articles on The Golden Age of Jazz published in the issue.

For your viewing pleasure... the iconic photo that started it all! 





Looking for more recent Esquire content? Hop over to the portion of the database that provides content from 1996-present. Looking for a different magazine? Try our tool called Periodical Finder to locate it through the SFPL databases.