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A Steampunk History of a World at War

Other steampunk

Teapot Dome Scandal

Dieselpunk - May 11, 2019 - 7:00am
The US news is filled with reports of Congress demanding that the IRS turn over President Trump’s tax return for the last six years. Congress is using an obscure law from 1924 that, according to House Democrats, would allow them to make such demands. Needless to say the reference to 1924 should raise the eyebrows of any dieselpunk. To understand this law requires us to look back to the 1920s and what had been the worst scandal in US history until Watergate: the Teapot Dome Scandal.


US President Warren G. Harding
The following is a brief summary stolen borrowed from Wikipedia,

The Teapot Dome scandal was a bribery scandal involving the administration of United States President Warren G. Harding from 1921 to 1923. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming, and two locations in California, to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. The leases were the subject of a seminal investigation by Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies, Fall became the first presidential cabinet member to go to prison; no one was convicted of paying the bribes.

Before the Watergate scandal, Teapot Dome was regarded as the "greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics". It damaged the reputation of the Harding administration, which was already severely diminished by its controversial handling of the Great Railroad Strike of 1922 and Harding's veto of the Bonus Bill in 1922. Congress subsequently passed legislation, enduring to this day, giving subpoena power to House and Senate for review of tax records of any US citizen without regard to elected or appointed position, nor subject to White House interference.


Once again, the mundane world is reminded of what every dieselpunk already knows. To understand the present you must first understand the past.
Categories: Other steampunk

Bauhaus Turns 100

Dieselpunk - April 27, 2019 - 6:42pm
“If today's arts love the machine, technology and organization, if they aspire to precision and reject anything vague and dreamy, this implies an instinctive repudiation of chaos and a longing to find the form appropriate to our times.” - Oskar Schlemmer, German Bauhaus artist

April 12, 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the German art school known as Bauhaus. Founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, the Bauhaus movement combined crafts with fine arts to create the most highly influential modernist school of art of the 20th century.


According to the website The Art Story,
The Bauhaus was influenced by 19th and early-20th-century artistic directions such as the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as Art Nouveau and its many international incarnations, including the Jugendstil and Vienna Secession. All of these movements sought to level the distinction between the fine and applied arts, and to reunite creativity and manufacturing; their legacy was reflected in the romantic medievalism of the Bauhaus ethos during its early years, when it fashioned itself as a kind of craftsmen's guild. But by the mid-1920s this vision had given way to a stress on uniting art and industrial design, and it was this which underpinned the Bauhaus's most original and important achievements. The school is also renowned for its extraordinary faculty, who subsequently led the development of modern art - and modern thought - throughout Europe and the United States.


When the Nazis took over in 1933 they proceeded to shut down the Bauhaus schools in Germany. Afterwards, several major Bauhaus leaders fled to the US. In 1933, the Jewish-born Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy formed what later would become the Institute of Design in Chicago. Walter Gropius relocated to the US in 1937 and taught at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. That same year Mies van der Rohe also came to the US and became director of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Categories: Other steampunk

Diesel PunX

Dieselpunk - April 13, 2019 - 8:34pm
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies with songs like Zoot Suit Riot, Dr. Bones, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddy Strut long ago cemented themselves as one the great dieselpunk bands. Recently the band released the second single from their upcoming new record, Bigger Life. Their new song is titled Diesel PunX.

In their newsletter, singer-songwriter for the band Steve Perry describes it as “a bit of slap bass Psychobilly, a hint of swing, elements of the Clash, and sarcastic, snotty moments of Music Hall tack hammer piano; a harsh, buzzy stew that hopefully impels listeners to sense the working class toughness of the characters.”


Diesel Punx is pure Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and I love it. I can’t think of a better tune than this one to carry the name Diesel PunX.

You can download the song from their website. Their new album, Bigger Life, is scheduled for release on June 14, 2019, and is available for pre-order now.
Categories: Other steampunk

Cult of Weimar Tarot

Dieselpunk - March 30, 2019 - 6:51pm
If there was a time and place during the Diesel Era that came closest to capturing the spirit of what would someday be called ‘Dieselpunk’ it would have been Berlin during the 1920s. Known as the Weimar Republic, Germany was midst of a violent, vulgar, and hedonistic age with cutting-edge art and experimental lifestyles that the world wouldn’t see again until the 1960s.

This amazing age is the inspiration for the Dieselpunk tarot deck called the Cult of Weimar.


Nemia at the website Aeclectic Tarot was able to acquire the tarot deck and posted a review. Following is an excerpt:

It adheres to the Classical structure of tarot decks with 78 cards. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins. The cards are dark, surrounded by black borders and inner borders in unobtrusive dark colours: dark brown thicker frames for the Major Arcana, and thinner frames for the minor cards (metallic for Wands, dark red for Cups, very dark blue for Swords and brown for Coins). The colours are a bit more muted in print than on the website but very clear. The card stock is smooth, matte and very easy to shuffle. It doesn't have a plasticky feel to it.

The card backs are fully reversible and show a simple geometric pattern, reminding me of Bauhaus tiles or textiles. The card numbers are in Roman numbers on top; the minors have no suit name, only a number, but they're easy to recognize. The card titles on court cards and trumps are given in an interesting, spiky, asymmetrical font in capital letters at the bottom of each card.

The images themselves are collages of old photographs and other graphics. They're composed quite often like a stage, with the person in the foreground shadowed (of highlighted) against a background scene. In spite of the overall darkness of the scenes, the use of light and shadow is very clever and dramatic - there are pools of light that make the dark corners mysterious and sometimes threatening. Every detail on the cards has been chosen with care, and it's a pleasure to recognize some of the landmarks of Berlin in the background. What could be more suitable for the Chariot than Potsdamer Platz, the busiest place in Europe in those years?


You can read the full review here.



Unfortunately, the first edition of the Cult of Weimar has sold out. There is a link at the Rabbits Moon Tarot website where you can be placed on a mailing list for news of the next edition.

Categories: Other steampunk

Is It Dieselpunk?

Dieselpunk - March 16, 2019 - 5:53pm
For a long time I’ve worked under the assumption that for something to be considered ‘dieselpunk’ it had to have three elements: decodence, contemporary, and punk. ‘Decodence’ being defined as either a setting during the Jazz Age (1920s - 1940s) or the aesthetics/ feel of that era. ‘Contemporary’ means that it was created in a post-Jazz Age time period. Finally, the ‘punk’ element being either a twist on the era (some examples being alt history, science-fiction, horror, fantasy, musical, etc) or a counter-cultural spin (the anti-hero being one example).

Over the years these three elements have served us well. They’ve allowed for different ‘flavors’ of dieselpunk to be identified. At the same time, these elements set parameters so that not just anything could be considered dieselpunk.

Yet, I've been wondering how far we can push this three element criteria. Are there artistic productions that meet this criteria that would not be considered dieselpunk? Let me give you an example of my concern.

The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music was a stage musical that first premiered in 1959. It was composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Later, in 1965 The Sound of Music was adapted into a film produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, with Richard Haydn and Eleanor Parker. The movie is now considered a classic. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Both the stage musical and the movie are loosely based on the Von Trapp family. Set in 1939, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He’s ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children.

Is It Dieselpunk?
The source of my doubts is using the word ‘punk’ in association with “The Sound of Music” just feels off to me. Certainly, it has the first two elements of dieselpunk. It has decodence in that they’re set in 1939. It’s contemporary in that no matter where one cuts off the Diesel Era, both were made post Jazz Age.

But is it really ‘punk’? Is simply being a musical enough to make it considered as such?

I’ll leave that to my readers to decide. If you have an opinion send me a message. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Categories: Other steampunk

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

Dieselpunk - March 2, 2019 - 6:43pm
A special thank you to John Wilson for bringing this to my attention.

The cable network Showtime announced back in November 2018 that it was developing a spin-off to its Steampunk series Penny Dreadful. Titled Penny Dreadful: Series of Angels more and more has been released about this new Dieselpunk series.

PD: COA is set in the same universe and timeline as the original but is relocated across the pond in Los Angeles of 1938. According to the official synopsis,

"When a murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega is embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city's first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart."


PD: COA is created by John Logan who created the original Penny Dreadful for Showtime. Logan’s writing credentials are impressive. He’s a three-time Academy Award nominee for Gladiator, The Aviator, and the Dieselpunk film Hugo. In addition, he wrote the Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, as well as Alien: Covenant and The Last Samurai.

In addition to the supernatural PD: COA will also explore various class and racial issues. According to Logan,

"Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels will have a social consciousness and historical awareness that we chose not to explore in the...London storylines.

We will now be grappling with specific historical and real-world political, religious, social and racial issues. In 1938, Los Angeles was facing some hard questions about its future and its soul. Our characters must do the same. There are no easy answers. There are only powerful questions and arresting moral challenges. As always in the world of Penny Dreadful, there are no heroes or villains in this world, only protagonists and antagonists; complicated and conflicted characters living on the fulcrum of moral choice.”


The cast includes Natalie Dormer (Game Of Thrones) as Magda, a demon who can take on the appearance of anyone she chooses, Daniel Zovatto (It Follows, Lady Bird and Don't Breathe) as Detective Tiago Vega and Nathan Lane (Birdcage and The Producers) as Lewis Michener, who is described as “a veteran officer in the LAPD.

While Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will be going into production this year no broadcast date has been announced.
Categories: Other steampunk

TIL: you can totally use a Ford regulator on a Toyota alternator, it bolts right on!

Steampunk Workshop - February 22, 2019 - 3:46pm
TIL: you can totally use a Ford regulator on a Toyota alternator, it bolts right on!
Categories: Other steampunk

Black History Month Cinema

Dieselpunk - February 17, 2019 - 12:27am
With this being Black History Month in the US I’ve decided to list a few of the movies focusing on the black experience in America.

The Great Debaters (2007)
The Great Debaters is a 2007 American biographical drama film directed by and starring Denzel Washington. It is based on an article written about the Wiley College debate team by Tony Scherman for the spring 1997 issue of American Legacy. The film co-stars Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Nate Parker, Gina Ravera, Jermaine Williams and Jurnee Smollett. The screenplay is by Robert Eisele, with a story by Robert Eisele & Jeffrey Porro.


Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Miracle at St. Anna is a 2008 American–Italian epic war film adapted by James McBride from his 2003 novel of the same name. Directed by Spike Lee, it stars Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, Pierfrancesco Favino and Valentina Cervi. Set primarily in Italy during German-occupied Europe in World War II, the film tells the story of four Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division who seek refuge in a small Tuscan village, where they form a bond with the residents. The story is presented as a flashback, as one survivor, Hector Negron (Alonso), reflects upon his experiences in a frame story set in 1980s New York. Several real-life events that occurred during the war, such as the Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre, are re-enacted.



Red Tails (2012)
Red Tails directed by Anthony Hemingway in his feature film directorial debut, and starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. The characters in the film are fictional, although based on real individuals of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. The film was produced by Lucasfilm and released by 20th Century Fox.


42 (2013)
42 is a 2013 American biographical sports film written and directed by Brian Helgeland about the racial integration of American professional baseball by player Jackie Robinson, who wore jersey number 42 through his Major League career. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, with Alan Tudyk, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, André Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan Merriman appearing in supporting roles.


Bessie (2015)
Bessie is an HBO TV film about legendary American blues singer Bessie Smith, and focuses on her transformation as a struggling young singer into "The Empress of the Blues". The film is directed by Dee Rees, with a screenplay by Rees, Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois. Queen Latifah stars as Smith, and supporting roles are played by Michael Kenneth Williams as Smith's first husband Jack Gee, and Mo'Nique as Ma Rainey.



Race (2016)
Race is a 2016 biographical sports drama film about African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Directed by Stephen Hopkins and written by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, the film stars Stephan James as Owens, and co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and Carice van Houten. It is a co-production of Canada, Germany and France. It was supported by the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group. It won four Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Actor for James.

Categories: Other steampunk

Carter G. Woodson: Father of Black History Month

Dieselpunk - February 2, 2019 - 7:00am
In the United States, the month of February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. While the national recognition is only a little more than 40 years old, the roots of Black History Month go back to the Diesel Era.

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

Carter G. WoodsonFrom the event's initial phase, primary emphasis was placed on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation's public schools. The first Negro History Week was met with a lukewarm response, gaining the cooperation of the Departments of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia as well as the city school administrations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Despite this far from universal acceptance, the event was regarded by Woodson as "one of the most fortunate steps ever taken by the Association", and plans for a repeat of the event on an annual basis continued apace.

At the time of Negro History Week's launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society:

If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.

By 1929, The Journal of Negro History was able to note that with only two exceptions, officials with the State Departments of Educations of "every state with considerable Negro population" had made the event known to that state's teachers and distributed official literature associated with the event". Churches also played a significant role in the distribution of literature in association with Negro History Week during this initial interval, with the mainstream and black press aiding in the publicity effort.

Negro History Week was met with an enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.

It became recognized nationally when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history".
Categories: Other steampunk
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