Celebrating All Things Dieselpunk

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Changing My Mind: Radio Riel Dieselpunk

“The best of us must sometimes eat our words.” ― J.K. Rowling

Back on August 13, 2010 I wrote a blog post in which I was highly critical of the online radio station Radio Riel Dieselpunk. Looking back, I realize that I was wrong.

As the new owner of Dieselpunks.org I went searching for a replacement for our music player. The previous method of providing music was too costly in both time and money to maintain. In my research I checked out a variety of stations that I knew. When all was said and done I found that the perfect station was Radio Riel Dieselpunk.

Radio Riel Dieselpunk plays music commercial free 24/7. As they say at their web site, “Radio Riel Dieselpunk features music from 1920–1940, including Pop Standards, Big Band & Swing, Burlesque & Cabaret, and a dash of Film Noir soundtracks. Currently believed to be the world’s only Dieselpunk station.”

I would add that I’ve heard some electro-swing at times as well, which is certainly dieselpunk.

I was wrong about Radio Riel Dieselpunk. It's a great station and I highly recommend it.

Sometimes one just has to eat crow. Wouldn’t be so bad except for when the feathers get stuck between my teeth.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dieselpunks.Org

Many of you who follow my blog are also familiar with Dieselpunks.org. If you’re not, Dieselpunks.org was created by Tome Wilson and has served to spread the dieselpunk genre like no other source. Then on June 9th of this year the online dieselpunk community was shocked to learn that Tome was planning on closing shop as of June 23rd unless someone came forward to take ownership.

I decided that I couldn’t allow Dieselpunks.org, which so changed my life, to close.

Emails flew between I, Tome and others as we hammered out a plan to save Dieselpunks.org. The biggest challenge we encountered was the hard deadline of paying the host by June 23rd or the lights on Dieselpunks.org would go out. When we realized that a point man was needed to make this happen I volunteered to be that man. With everyone in agreement I made the needed investment.


Now what?

First, as the Hippocratic Oath goes, ‘Do no harm.’ Therefore, there won’t be any major changes to Dieselpunks.org right away.

The only major change needed soon is concerning the music player. Since the music licenses will end at the start of July the player will need to be replaced. The current plans are to replaced it with a streaming online station. Watch the site for more on this to come.

Thankfully, I’m not going at this alone. I have a great staff helping me oversee the site. Many were in place before Tome left and several have been added

It’s important to mention that I’m grateful to Tome for all that he’s done in creating Dieselpunks.org and for his friendship. I’m honored to be helping to continue his legacy.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Diesel Era Spirit

According to a recent blog post by Danette Wilson, “The Celts, the Norse and the Slavs believed that there were three ‘spirit nights’ in the year when magic ran amok and the Otherworld was near”.  Spirits such as pixies, phookas, willow the wisps, Jenny Greenteeth and more would roam the earth looking to snare an unsuspecting victim. She goes on to mention that the Midsummer Eve, or Summer Solstice, was one of those spirit nights.

The end of the Diesel Era saw a wonderful re-imagining of one of these spirits in the movie Harvey.


Starring James Stewart, Josephine Hull and Peggy Dow, Harvey may be one of James Stewart’s best movies. IMDb gives the following summary of the plot:

Due to his insistence that he has an invisible six foot-tall rabbit for a best friend, a whimsical middle-aged man is thought by his family to be insane - but he may be wiser than anyone knows.

So on this Midsummer’s Eve celebrate our own mischievous spirit and bring home a copy of Harvey.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

America First … Again

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - George Santayana

“Those of us who remember the past are condemned to watch others repeat it.” – Dieselpunk Axiom

Back in April, Donald Trump, the presumptive Presidential nominee for US Republican Party, made the following statement during a speech,
"My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration."
Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s use of the phrase ‘America First ‘ sent shock waves around the world. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO with the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement,
“... for many Americans, the term ‘America First’ will always be associated with and tainted by this history. In a political season that already has prompted a national conversation about civility and tolerance, choosing a call to action historically associated with incivility and intolerance seems ill-advised,"

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Reuters concerning Trump’s statement,

"I can only hope that the election campaign in the U.S.A. does not lack the perception of reality.”

What was it about a seemingly innocuous phase such as “America First” that rattled so many? To understand we need to go back to the Diesel Era.

America First was first coined by Woodrow Wilson as a label for his isolationist policy. In his policy, America would stay out of the Great War until Europe finally carried things “so far” and then the US would step in.

The legendary newspaper owner William Hearst was strongly pro-German and vehemently opposed America being involved in the Great War or even sending aid to the Allies. When America did enter the war he adopted Wilson's slogan for his newspaper and used it as part of a policy in which he advocated that while fighting Germany, America should still not give aid to the Allied countries.

William Hearst
In the 1932 election the question wasn't whether Herbert Hoover would be elected. Even though Hoover was running for reelection the Great Depression had destroyed any hopes of winning. As a result, it was known that whoever won the Democratic Party nomination would automatically be president.

Hearst hated FDR and through his support behind Congressman John Nance Garner from Texas. In his support for Garner, Hearst said that he preferred “a man … whose guiding motto is ‘America First,’”.

Hearst then set about reinventing Garner with a mythological log-cabin birth along with the characteristics that Hearst thought would help him win. Garner was not only a strong free-trader he also shared Hearst paranoia that the greatest danger to America was its “increasing tendency toward socialism and communism.”

Hearst’s paranoia about socialism and communism isn’t as disturbing as his admiration for Adolf Hitler. By 1932, Hearst was publishing articles written by Hitler. Hearst praised Hitler, saying in his paper that he saved Germany from “the beckoning arms of Bolshevism.” Hearst also liked Hitler’s emphasis on nationalism meaning that he put Germany first by attacking, literally, those on the Left. Something that Hearst wanted to see happen in the US as well.

Hearst could not stop the Roosevelt steamroller at the Democratic convention in 1932. However, he did have sufficient pull to be able to ensure that FDR chose Garner as his running mate. With Garner as FDRs running mate Hearst and the president-elect buried the hatchet. FDR eventually replaced Garner with Henry A. Wallace as his VP in his 1940 reelection .

However, peace between Hearst and FDR didn’t last long. By the end of 1933 Hearst was describing the New Deal as “more communistic than the communists” and as being, “un-American to the core.”

During the 1930s, Hearst paper with “AMERICA FIRST” on its masthead with a stylized eagle clutching a ribbon reading, “AN AMERICAN PAPER FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE,” praised and promoted Nazism. Hearst, through his paper, said that fascism was a “great achievement”. His paranoia grew every year. Communists, according the Hearst, could be found from the FDR administration to college professors to unions.

Hearst paranoia translated, like it so often does, into violence. When mobs attacked the homes of strikers in San Francisco in July of 1934 Hearst’s New York Times reported, “Thank God the patriotic citizens of California have shown us the way.”

Representatives with the Trump campaign have denied that there’s any connection between his use of the phrase.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

New dieselpunk fiction. Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak.


According to Amazon.com,

“For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him...but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms...then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cirque du Soleil: Paramour

(Do to circumstances beyond my control, this will be an abbreviated blog post. I plan to return to my regular postings next time.- Larry)

Cirque du Soleil has gone dieselpunk with its new production on Broadway: Paramour.



According to the official Cirque du Soleil web site:

LOVE IN TECHNICOLOR
Cirque du Soleil has dazzled audiences the world over, and now it’s finally coming to Broadway with its boldest, most heart-soaring spectacle ever. PARAMOUR spins the thrilling tale of a beautiful young actress forced to choose between love and art in the glamorous world of Golden Age Hollywood. Featuring eye-popping acrobatics and sumptuous music and dance, PARAMOUR is a groundbreaking new event that will transport you to a sublime world of emotion and awe as it walks the exhilarating tightrope of the heart.

To learn more about this play, visit broadway.com.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dirty Thirties In the News

I’ve always been a Dirty Thirties kind of Dieselpunk. The 1930s saw the horrors of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the rise of Fascism and the start of World War 2. Yet, it also saw the eternal optimism of the human spirit with the New Deal, world changing inventions (such as the jet engine and FM radio) and the Golden Age of Radio and Motion Pictures.

Recently there have been a rash of online items related to the Dirty Thirties. All three article linked here relates to dieselpunk in they all tie that era in with today.

The Battle Hymn of The Great Depression’ by Rosa Inocencia Smith (The Atlantic)


This article explains the title to John Steinbeck's novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and shows how this classic of American fiction ties into today’s US Presidential election.

The Case for a New WPA’ by Alana Semuels (The Atlantic)


This commentary explores the Works Projects Administration of the New Deal and the writer makes a compelling argument for a similar national program for the 21st century.

The World-Wide Elimination of Polio (Popular Science)


Polio was one of the great scourges of the Diesel Era. The disease’s most famous victim being President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This article in Popular Science explores the exciting advances in the fight against polio and how the dramatic drop in the number of cases indicate a high likelihood of its world-wide eradication by the end of 2016.