Detroit Michigan

The Lost Generation

Following in the horsemen’s wake of World War I, the story of America in the 1920s was one of a country weaving itself together from the tatters of plague and poverty. It was a time when the citizens danced to Nero’s fiddle while the republic battled its self-made robber barons and gentlemen thieves. It was a time when the populace cried out and told the heavens that no matter what was thrown their way, they were still alive. It was the Roaring Twenties. Continue reading “The Lost Generation”

New York City

Art Deco

The Roaring Twenties were a period of great paradoxes. After the First World War, the world was experiencing a period of vitality and exuberance, new technologies and styles. At the same time, it was a period of political and social contrasts which ended with the Great Depression.

Art Deco is the aesthetic which best incarnated the aspirations of those years and their yearning for modernity. Continue reading “Art Deco”

Graf Zeppelin airship

Germany’s Golden Twenties

The Roaring Twenties, or Goldenen Zwanziger Jahre, as they were known in Germany, were very likely Germany’s happiest time in the first half of the twentieth century. They can also be considered Berlin’s Golden Age.

The time between the end of the hyperinflation and hardships of the post-Great War period and the stock market crash of 1929 were a comparatively stable period for the troubled Weimar Republic. The largely French-driven dictates of the Versailles Treaty were modified and relieved by the implementation of the Dawes Plan and later the Young Plan (although the latter would not come into effect until 1930). In 1926, the Weimar Republic joined the League of Nations, another sign of normalization.

Fueled by American dollars, the German economy stabilized and expanded, leading to increased wealth. This credit-financed economy would later prove highly vulnerable to the effects of the Great Recession of the early 1930s, but, for the moment, the Weimar Republic enjoyed prosperity, stability and good times. Continue reading “Germany’s Golden Twenties”

Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station

The Original Steampunk Cinema

In general, the history of cinema seems to be more significantly linked to dieselpunk and cyberpunk as opposed to steampunk. This isn’t surprising, considering cinema isn’t considered to have entered its prime until the 1920s, around the beginning of the “dieselpunk” era.

However, it’s important to remember that in 1895, the Lumière brothers held their first public film screening, some thirty years before the Golden Age of Silent Film. Continue reading “The Original Steampunk Cinema”

Howard Hughes

The Aviator: The Life and Legend of Howard Hughes

Much of the Howard Hughes legend was well dramatized in the hit Hollywood film The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. With some alterations for narrative, the film was a great success and provided the viewer with a good understanding of Hughes and his eccentricities.

However, the film ends well before Hughes himself passed away in 1976 and left many details of his life uncovered. Continue reading “The Aviator: The Life and Legend of Howard Hughes”

1st Russian Womens Battalion of Death

Battalion of Death: Russia’s All-Female Fighting Force

Peasants, widows and royalty all wanted to serve Mother Russia in the Great War. Some were nurses, others support troops, but on occasion women would put Mosin-Nagant rifle to shoulder and fight quietly as front line troops.

Cossacks and Siberian sniper units were reinforced by female recruits, but the concept of all-female infantry units was viewed with skepticism. Yet with the fall of the Tsar Nicholas II regime in the spring of 1917, and the war against Germany lingering, the Provisional Government needed fresh bodies to send to the frontlines.

And from the vast Russian multitudes a select number of women stepped forward to become soldiers in the 1st Women’s Battalion of Death. Hundreds of women, between the ages of 18 and 40, would turn out to be inspected by the tough commanding officer: Captain Maria Bochkareva. Yet few would pass muster. Continue reading “Battalion of Death: Russia’s All-Female Fighting Force”

Winchester House San Jose California

Crooked House

Not the Agatha Christie novel, but those who have read the Stephen King story Rose Red will find this piece of architectural confusion vaguely familiar.

The story begins in Connecticut when heiress and widow Sarah Winchester consulted a spiritualist for advice following a depression brought on from the deaths of her only daughter in 1866, her father-in-law in 1880 and her husband, wealthy gun magnate William Winchester, in 1881. She had assumed that the Winchester family was cursed from the deaths that had occurred.

The medium she consulted was reputedly psychic and told Sarah Winchester that the family were indeed cursed — by the spirits of the people killed by the Winchester rifle. The medium advised her to move west and build a new house for herself and the spirits.

The twist was that if Sarah Winchester was to ever halt construction on the house, she would also die. Continue reading “Crooked House”