"Why Man Creates" is the witty animated film by famed graphic designer Saul Bass that won the 1968 Oscar for Best Short Subject Documentary. Bass was best known for his memorable title sequences for films such as Psycho, North by Northwest, and The Man with the Golden Arm. He also designed the briliant logos for corporations and organizations such as the United Way, United Airlines, the Girl Scouts, and AT&T.
"Why Man Creates" is one of the handful of films from 1968 selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry for "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films." The feature films from 1968 that are on the Registry include Bullitt, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Producers, Night of the Living Dead, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Planet of the Apes. With the exception of Night of the Living Dead, you can't watch any of them online, but you can see much of "Why Man Creates" on YouTube or RIGHT HERE:
THE BEATLES -- "The White Album," 1968
Richard Hamilton, British "pop" artist and the designer of one of the most famous album covers of all time, has died. (See NY Times obituary). Hamilton was the genius behind the Beatles' "White Album"--officially titled simply The Beatles--which was released on November 22, 1968.
The stark white sleeve of the double album was marked only by a barely visible embossed name of the band, and each album was consecutively numbered, which Hamilton thought would give individual albums the look of a limited edition art piece. The "edition" was hardly limited, however-- the White Album immediately shot to the top of the charts, and within two years had sold 6.5 million copies, making it the best-selling double album ever up to that time (soon surpassed, however, by Saturday Night Fever).
Hamilton also designed the fold-out poster that was a bonus feature inside the album.
Beatles fans can, of course, remember all of the songs and the order they appeared on the album's four sides, but as a reminder, the White Album featured "Back in the USSR" (so reminiscent of the Beach Boys), "Sexy Sadie," "Rocky Raccoon," "Julia," "Dear Prudence" (written about Prudence Farrow, Mia's sister, who accompanied the Beatles on their 1968 trip to India to study meditation); "Birthday," "Revolution," and -- infamously-- "Helter Skelter," later credited by Charles Manson for inspiring his murderous rampages.
Watch and listen to "Revolution" here:
Dr. Benjamin Spock Baby and Child Care: New and Revised Edition, 1968
Dr. Spock belongs on any list of 1968 cultural icons--and I mean the earthbound pediatrician, not the alien on the U.S. Starship Enterprise. But 1968? Benjamin Spock had become a household name years earlier. His book The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was first published in 1946, the exact year that demographers record as the start of the postwar baby boom, and within six months had sold a half-million copies. Ten years later-- the height of the boom in 1956-57--it was selling a million copies a year. I'm sure my mother had a copy by the time I was born in 1950; as I grew up, and more babies were added to the household, I remember thumbing through the well-worn paperback (originally, the only format it was available in) around our house.
In 1968, a "new and revised" edition of Baby and Child Care (the new title), was published. I was interested to see if there were any reflections in this edition of what had become Dr. Spock's other preoccupation in 1968, namely his opposition to the draft. Spock had started speaking out against the war as early as 1965, and, in June 1968, he and three other people (including famed Yale University chaplain William Sloane Coffin) were convicted for conspiring to counsel draft registrants to ‚Äúviolate the Selective Service Act,‚Äù that is, to resist the draft. The conviction was later over-turned.
There is nothing in this edition of the Spock baby book specifically about the war or the draft. Nor does it directly address the accusations hurled at him by such authorities as best-selling author Norman Vincent Peale or Chicago mayor Richard J. Dale y (or, later, by Nixon's hatchet-man and Vice President Spiro Agnew) that it was he--Dr. Spock--who was responsible for turning boomers into an unruly generation of rebellious protesters. The blame was sometimes leveled not on the kids but on their "greatest generation" parents who had followed his supposedly "subversive" advice.
The closest he comes to declaring an anti-war stand is in a completely new section in the first chapter. Spock argues that "we need idealistic children" so that, as adults, they can confront the "enormous, frightening problems in our country and in the world."
"We have an overwhelming supply of the most powerful weapons the world has ever known," yet "we are in imminent danger of annihilation." Because of our power, "we are interfering arrogantly in the affairs of other nations and arousing worldwide resentment."
"Our only realistic hope," Spock concludes, "is to bring up our children with a feeling that they are in this world not for their own satisfaction but primarily to serve others."
On this date in 1968, Richard Nixon accepted the nomination as the Republican Party's candidate for president. He had won, resoundingly, on the first ballot over New York governor Nelson Rockefeller and California governor Ronald Reagan.
Here's an oft-quoted part of the speech he made that night in Miami:
As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night. We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad. We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home.
And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish:
Did we come all this way for this? Did American boys die in Normandy and Korea and in Valley Forge for this?
Listen to the answers to those questions.
It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult of the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non shouters, the non demonstrators. They're not racists or sick; they're not guilty of the crime that plagues the land; they are black, they are white; they're native born and foreign born; they're young and they're old.
They work in American factories, they run American businesses. They serve in government; they provide most of the soldiers who die to keep it free. They give drive to the spirit of America. They give lift to the American dream. They give steel to the backbone of America.
And this I say, this I say to you tonight, is the real voice of America. In this year 1968, this is the message it will broadcast to America and to the world.
Note that Nixon did NOT use the phrase "Silent Majority" in that passage about the "forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators." The famous term did not gain widespread use until Nixon used it in a speech more than a year later, in November 1969. However, Oliver Stone apparently found it irresistible, and interpolated it into Anthony Hopkins' version of Nixon's August 8, 1968 Miami speech.
In one of history's great coincidences, August 8th is ALSO the date of Nixon's televised announcement of his resignation as president in 1974.
The renowned photographer Jerome Liebling has died at age 87. Liebling moved to Minnesota in 1949, and for many years was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota. Recently, he donated a collection of nearly 200 photographs focusing on politics and politicians, taken from 1956 to 1969, to the Minnesota Historical Society. You can watch a podcast about those photographs here.
On July 4, 1968, George C. Wallace, the arch-segregationist and former Alabama governor who was running for
president as an independent, made a campaign stop in Minneapolis, and Jerome Liebling was there to cover the occasion, including the candidate's arrival at the airport, his meeting with reporters, and a rally that turned pretty raucous. Here are some photos from that day, now in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society: