Celebrating All Things Dieselpunk

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.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

When most people think of Dr. Seuss they think of children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. What most don’t know was that he was also a very active political cartoonist.

However, from 1940 to 1948 Dr. Seuss (whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel) penned over 400 editorial cartoons for the New York newspaper the PM.

The University of California at San Diego has a massive collection of his political cartoons from that time available to be viewed online.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Brussels: Nation at the Crossroads of Conflict

Early in the morning of March 22, 2016 terrorists exploded bombs in Brussels, Belgium. The bombings were the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium's history. At least 34 people were killed with hundreds injured.

This wasn’t the first time Belgium was the target of international violence. Belgium was at the crossroads of violence during the two great conflicts of the Diesel Era.

World War One
During the early days of the Great War, Germany invaded neutral Belgium. Known as the Schlieffen Plan, the invasion was meant to allow the German forces to circumvent the French defenses with the goal of quickly capturing Paris. Due to an 1839 agreement to protect Belgium this caused the British to join into the conflict.

Belgium army in World War One
The German invasion sent waves of Belgium refugees into Netherlands, France and England. To stop the outgoing flow of refugees, in 1915 the German authorities built an electric fence (known as the Wire of Death) along the Belgian-Dutch border. It’s estimated that between 2,000 to 3,000 Belgian refugees died trying leave the country.

The world was shocked by the atrocities committed by the German authorities in Belgium. Known as the Rape of Belgium, it’s been confirmed that the German army executed as many as 6,500 French and Belgian civilians in 1914 claiming that they were responding to guerrilla attacks. Often these were random large-scale shootings directed by junior German officers. However, the German Army recorded 101 ‘major’ incidents in which 10 or more civilians, totaling to 4,421 deaths, were executed at a time. They recorded that 1,100 Belgians were killed in 383 ‘minor’ incidents.
Painting by George Bellow depicting German atrocities in Belgium
World War Two
World War One devastated Belgium. As a result, the small nation announced what it called the ‘Independent Policy’ in which it would remain neutral in the event of another European war. It even signed a treaty with Nazi Germany in 1937 in which it was promised that its borders would not be violated.

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1975-021-20 / Pincornelly / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,
On May 10, 1940, German broke its agreement and invaded Belgium. Under the code name Case Yellow, Germany used Belgium as a shortcut into France much as it had in World War One. The German forces quickly overwhelmed the Belgium army. Belgium fell in just 18 days.

As in World War One, conditions in Belgium during the German occupation were harsh to say the least. Food and fuel were tightly rationed. Belgian civilians living near possible targets such as railway junctions were in danger of Allied aerial bombing. Civil rights were non-existent. Not only were they oppressed by the Germans but there were collaborators from Belgian Fascist parties in Flanders and Wallonia. Several of them recruited for the SS and the German army.

However, in 1942, the occupation reached a new level of horror not seen during the Great War. That year the Germans began to systematically persecute Jews and deport them to concentration camps. They also deported non-Jewish Belgium civilians to work in factories in Germany. Starting in 1944, the SS and Nazi Party gained much greater control in Belgium, which placed greater and greater hardships.

Belgium people have shown to be resilient in the face of adversity. In the aftermath of the two wars they recovered to become world leaders. They were founders of the European Union. Quality of life is quite high in Belgium as shown by it being categorized as ‘very high’ on the Human Development Index, which is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators.

Just as the Belgium people survived and recovered to be stronger from the devastation of the two world wars, they will rebound from the recent terrorist attacks to continue as one of the great countries of the world.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Agent Carter Season 3 Finale

Season 2 finale of the dieselpunk television series 'Agent Carter' aired March 1st to mixed reviews. You can listen to the Agent Carter Round table, which yours truly was a part of. A good online review that I like is at Vulture.com.

Word is mixed whether there will be a Season 3. While some early reports were that there would not be a third season, Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) has stated in the Hollywood Insider that she feels like she can do both her new show 'Conviction' and 'Agent Carter'.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Is Electro-Swing Dieselpunk?

Dieselpunk music, like the genre itself, is very diverse. Not long ago I saw a post on Facebook in which someone was critical of Electro-Swing. Whether one likes are dislikes electro-swing music, in my opinion, one can’t deny that it’s one form of dieselpunk music.

Check out the wording of the web site electro-swing.com:
This site is dedicated to the Electro Swing movement occurring worldwide. Let’s bring back the beautiful craziness of the 20′s, come on! Welcome to electro-swing.com :)

The dieselpunk credentials of electro-swing are solid and go beyond statements such as “Let’s bring back the beautiful craziness of the 20′s”. For example, electro-swing.com describes the new work of the producer Soulbrarian ‘New King Dooji’ as being, “a remix of … Swing tunes, composed by the great Duke Ellington and originally recorded in 1939.”

Love it or hate it, electro-swing is a form of dieselpunk.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine’s Day – World War Two

Time magazine web site has an article today about love between American soldiers and English women during World War Two.

“Always in spring, young couples have walked under [Hyde Park’s] elms,” the magazine explained. But this year, it continued, “American boys and British girls stroll there and sometimes kiss before all men in England turn to stern tasks of war.” Devoid of context, Morse’s images of young lovers might appear to be the very picture of carefree romance. But the world outside the frame provided plenty of reasons for the soldiers to seek shelter in the arms of young English ladies. The thought of impending death, however, kept many soldiers from allowing their flirtations to develop into deeper love. Their courtship rituals held no promise of happy endings.
Click here to read the article.
Source: time.com

Sunday, January 31, 2016


The Jessie Owens story with be coming to theaters February 19, 2016. According to IMDb, titled 'Race", "Jesse Owens' quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler's vision of Aryan supremacy."