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Pop Culture Roundup: This Week

Nice hair, though: A history of presidential locks on display

Newly discovered documents unveiled at Trinity College Dublin Library.

Where does our freedom come from? Should it apply to all people? Why was ‘Independence’ a dirty word when it first appeared? This exhibition presents newly discovered evidence that the concept of Independence in the English-speaking world emerged out of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, half a century earlier than believed.

“The 13th” is Ms. DuVernay’s first directing effort since “Selma” (2014), which starred David Oyelowo as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and received an Academy Award nomination for best picture.

In “The 13th,” Ms. DuVernay weaves together footage of the civil rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan and Black Lives Matter activists, and interviews with figures as varied as the Republican and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the political commentator and activist Van Jones, and Michelle Alexander, the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” (2010).

The United States’ high incarceration rate has become a cause for concern on both sides of the political aisle. Though the country accounts for about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses nearly 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. A disproportionate amount of those prisoners are black men.

It’s been 100 years since the London Underground’s distinctive typeface made its first appearance. Alongside the unmistakable roundel, Johnston has helped to create some of the most recognisable signage in the world: a design which screams “London!”, no matter which language you speak. It has guided Londoners and visitors alike through the city’s complex and changing transport system for a century – it’s hard to imagine where we’d all be without it.

On the centenary of London’s most famous lettering, now is a good moment to reflect on how Johnston has shaped the city, and why words – and the way they’re written – form such an essential part of urban infrastructure.

The Ghent Altarpiece is one of the world’s most abused and threatened artworks, even becoming the center of a tug of love between Hitler and Goring.

Over the past five centuries, the painting has become one of the most coveted works of all time.

According to art historian Noah Charney, who wrote a book about the work called Stealing the Mystic Lamb, it has suffered 13 separate crimes over its history, becoming the victim of thefts and fires, despots and madmen. (What is intact of the piece is presently being restored at the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent.)

Each time, the work has been miraculously found and restored—all except for one panel, that is. The two-part, lower left hand panel known as the Just Judges remains missing to this day.

Beer nerds may want to drop everything for this career opportunity. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is hiring a beer historian/scholar for a three-year appointment. Curator Paula Johnson explains that the gig is a new position funded by the Brewers Association and that the museum is seeking someone who can "focus and dedicate efforts towards research, documentation, and collecting American brewing history."

"We have collected food history for many years, so when we were doing the research for the exhibition, which is all about big changes in the post WW II era in how and what we eat, one thing we were curious about is the craft beer movement," Johnson says. "We were looking at wine, coffee, cheese, artisanal bread, and farmers markets. Well, this movement with small-scale, local regional beer is part of the ethos."

No one remembers John Romulus Brinkley (1885-1942), but back in the day even Buster Keaton tipped his hat to him, in his short “Cops” (1922). In a clip from that silent comedy in Penny Lane’s lighthearted, perverse documentary “Nuts!,” Keaton covertly slips into a clinic offering goat-testicle transplants, a cure for impotence that Brinkley discovered in 1918 and marketed to thousands of satisfied customers.

But that’s just for starters. In 1923 Brinkley established KFKB, a popular radio station. And after the American Medical Association denounced him and the Federal Radio Commission (precursor to the Federal Communications Commission) shut down his station, Brinkley ran for governor of Kansas, in 1930. He would have won had his opponents not illegally disqualified thousands of votes.

Georgiana Houghton (1814–1884) was one of many artistic British mediums. At the age of 45, she first became interested in spiritualism after the death of her younger sister and began attending seances. In 1861, she developed her skills as an artistic medium and throughout the 1860s and 1870s produced hundreds of symbolic artworks.

Only 40 of these now survive and a vibrant sample have been chosen for display at the Courtauld exhibition. In 1871, Houghton also chose to exhibit her work and she rented a gallery in Old Bond Street to present her spirit drawings to a London audience. This indicated that Houghton wanted her seance work to gain merit as art in itself, but she also used the exhibition to expose spiritualist ideas to the general public.

Are you already suffering from Hamilton withdrawal? Have you worn out your copy of the cast recording? Find yourself fatigued from the non-energizing vibes of non-Hamilton-related news? Well, I have a cure for what ails you, dear reader. Hot off the San Diego Comic Con presses comes the news that none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda will be on Drunk HistorySeason 4 to explain the story of none other than... you guessed it! Alexander Hamilton. This is set to be one of Miranda's first major post-Hamilton acting gigs, and let's be real: it's so not a surprise (but it's so glorious) that he would stick to his historical comfort zone. Miranda has been a master on Hamilton's life for the better part of eight years. He first introduced us to the first phase of Hamilton at the White House in 2009, performing what would be the opening number of the musical. From there, the rest is (please don't groan because I'm going to say it) history. It makes sense he's be happy to revisit familiar territory in a delightfully unfamiliar way.

The Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan is known for its grand public spaces, such as its two-tiered ballroom and vast lobby. But upstairs, in a windowless corner of the hotel’s administrative offices, Deidre Dinnigan toils in a cramped room not much larger than a closet. Ms. Dinnigan, the hotel’s archivist, is responsible for cataloging and researching more than 4,000 objects, from filigreed brass room numbers to yellowing advertisements from the 1950s.

“I love what I do,” Ms. Dinnigan said during a recent interview, her tall frame squeezed between a table obscured by books and a tower of filing cabinets. A mannequin dressed in an old bellhop uniform was stationed where her desk chair would normally go. “I believe I would throw myself into any field,” she said, “but there is something about the Waldorf, especially if you love New York and social history.”

Historical markers have long dotted the landscape, often barely noticed by passers-by — until they became treasure-filled stops this month on the “Pokemon Go” trail.

Players hunting for fictional creatures on their smartphones are now visiting real-life memorial plaques, statues, mosaics and landmarks, ranging from a Civil War battlefield in Chancellorsville, Virginia, to a Hells Angels clubhouse on New Zealand’s North Island.