Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Movies - Marlene Dietrich

Today is a big movie day! Yesterday, we finally broke down and bought the new Marlene Dietrich five-film set that's part of . We are desperately trying to wait until this weekend to watch it- we want to wallow in Blonde Venus, The Devil is a Woman, The Flame of New Orleans, Golden Earrings, and Morocco, but that probably won't happen. An excuse will be found, popcorn will be popped, and we will take a trip back the early '30s to look at the glorious Marlene decked out in evening clothes while flirting with men and women alike. Still, we're also reminded that Marlene was more than a diva- not only did she entertain American troops during WWII and sell war bonds (she was one of the first stars to do so), she also openly and loudly rejected anti-Semitism and was an international singing star. So, show the love for Marlene- and check out the other boxed sets (Bette Davis, Carole Lombard, and Mae West) in the same series, known as "The Glamour Collection".

My only criticism of this set is that five movies are compressed onto two disks, which can lead to freezing and other problems- but at least these movies are now available. I only wish Universal sold a better product.

Movies - Rudolph Valentino

The female half of Modern Flapper has a problem. She is madly in love with people who are usually dead. Modern movie stars leave her cold; for her, there is nothing like a pitcher of lemonade, some popcorn, and an afternoon of Turner Classic Movies. But what really revs the Flapper's engine is a man who made movies close to a century ago- Rudolph Valentino. Yes, the Flapper is a serious Valentino fan. If the Sexy One could come back to life and show up on her door step she would probably swoon with passion and need industrial-strength smelling salts to wake her up. Thank goodness she is not the only person with a crush on a man who may have been the first modern male sex symbol; there are photos of him all over the Internet. Here's a link to a few of them.

History - What was Prohibition, anyway?

Did you know that during Prohibition you could still get alcohol if your doctor was willing to fill out a certificate saying you needed it for medicinal purposes? Or that 65% of the country had banned the sale of alcohol before Prohibition came into being? Digital History, one of Modern Flapper's favorite sites, has a brief history of American Prohibition that's worth reading, especially in light of contemporary discussions regarding medical marijuana and other drugs. To see some Prohibition-related pictures, look here. To read some information on the Anti-Saloon League (a primarily-male group) and the WCTU (a primarily female group that was also involved with women's suffrage and issues such as child and spousal abouse) click here and here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Food and Drink - How to make bitters for cocktails

Over at Boston Cocktail, there's an article on how to make various kinds of bitters that are used in cocktails. There's also a recipe for the gin rickey, which is a perfect summer drink, and a listing for other cocktails. The recipes look straightforward and will add a zing to your summer drinks. We might try to make some of them this summer, since bitters are crucial to many Prohibition-era cocktails.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Food and Drink - Jell-O

Summer is coming (in the Northeast, where it keeps raining and has been mostly in the 60s, it doesn't feel like summer yet) and it's time to think about cool desserts that will satisfy the sweet tooth without being too fattening. Thank goodness Jell-O was invented in the early part of the 20th century, so that even people who can't cook can have a treat without spending a lot of money. Modern Flapper found a Food Timeline that lists recipes from all eras of Western history, including a whole booklet of items from one of the first Jell-O cookbooks. If you're looking for a way to make the perfect early 20th century picnic, you should find enough material here to stay in period and still have a great time. After all, this was the period when frozen foods became popular, and prepared items started making life easier for housewives and working people.

Music - Hawaiian Jazz

We at Modern Flapper have never had the pleasure of going to Hawaii. One of our members has been to Tahiti, and the other has traveled in Southeast Asia, but the joy of eating poi has never been in our experience. However, if we were to go to Hawaii, we would want to go in July, because then we could attend the two-day Hawaii International Jazz Festival. We have to say that playing a ukelele under a palm tree while listening to slack-key guitars is our idea of a fun vacation. What makes it even better is that this year there will be an emphasis on swing music- oh joy and rapture! If you do plan to go to the festival, please let us know- we'd love a report!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Holidays - Happy Loving Day!

June 12th is the 39th anniversary of the legalization of interracial marriage. That's right- before 1967 it was illegal for people of different races to marry each other. Modern Flapper took a break from the World Between the Wars today and attended a charming and uplifting Loving Day Party at The Delancey, a boite in downtown Manhattan, where free hamburgers and hot dogs were served, free beer was drunk, and lots of flirting, schmoozing and celebrating went on. However, we must remember that the fight for all people to be seen as human did not start in the 1960s. Right before WWI there was a failed movement to make interracial marriage illegal in the US through Constitutional amendment (sound familiar?), and during the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan made a big comeback. By the 1930s, Joe Lewis had a shot at becoming heavyweight fighting champion of the world without being chased out of the country (which is what happened to Jack Johnson, primarily because he kept marrying white women and defeating pretty much every "Great White Hope" who was sent to destroy him in the ring), but things remained dicey for a very long time. Witness the way Japanese-Americans were treated during World War II and the manner in which newspapers and movies portrayed anyone who was not white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant from the 1800s through the end of WWII.
Thanks to Facing History for the amazing graphic.

Music - Masters of Memphis Blues

I was reading Bonamassa Blog and found a lovely mp3 of Furry Lewis singing "Jelly Roll" that I wanted to share. Lewis and others of the Memphis sound made most of their recording before WWII. This is backwoods blues; it's the fountain from which all rock and roll, hip-hop and most modern pop comes from, regardless of national origin.

Music - The Hot Club Quintette

The Hot Club Quintette was one of the most influential jazz ensembles of its day. It began with a chance meeting between violinist Stephane Grappelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt. They remained at the heart of the group throughout its' existence. Other members cycled in and out. Listen to this track and marvel.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dance - The Charleston

Sorry that there haven't been any new posts, but we at Modern Flapper in the middle of finishing up the semester.
To make up for it I have several video clips of one of my favorite dances- the Charleston. The Charleston was invented in the 1920s andturned into a total craze; it and the Black Bottom were the two most popular dances, and the Charleston eventually influenced the Lindy Hop and the new popular dance, the Balboa. Here and here are some links I found on YouTube; and here's a link to the first pair of dancers, remixed to music by Daft Punk. And for you history buffs, here's a little information on all of these dances.
Lindy Hop

Saturday, May 13, 2006

History - Fads during the 1920s

It's Saturday night, and what am I doing? Grading papers, watching the World's Strongest Man contest, and thinking about... stunts. After all, picking up giant rocks and putting them on columns is as much a stunt as it is a sport, right? So, in honor of my exciting Saturday night, I offer you some historical info on the 1920s, as well as some frightening and lovely information on the stunts that were popular at that time. David Blaine has nothing on these people. Also, here's some slang so that if you go back in a time machine, you'll fit in.

History - Shanghai Film Queens and "Oriental" Decadence

Check out this great article from the China Daily on Chinese movie stars of the 1930s. There's also this article on how Shanghai is being reborn as the Paris of the East. And this wonderful website, called "Tales of Old China", tells what life was like in China during the European occupation, especially in Shanghai. The photo is of film star Ruan Ling-yu, one of the greatest stars of the 1930s, and it is taken from the "Tales of Old Shanghai" section of "Tales of Old China".

Friday, May 12, 2006

Food and Drink - The Singapore Sling

Singapore had a reputation as one of the most decadent cities on earth during the 1920s and 1930s. This signature cocktail was made famous there, and it deserves a rivival. One word of warning- it's pretty potent. Don't let the alcohol content fool you. These are best drunk on a porch with a breeze, or over a long and lingering dinner. Plus the website offers a nice story to go along with the drink recipe.
BTW, the picture was taken from this website, which will lead you to one on more pre-19489 images of Shanghai, Beijing, and Kyoto.

History - Britain Between the Wars

I was looking up information on early cocktails, and found this informative page on Britain between the wars. The 'Bright Young Things' were the British equivalent to the Flapper. This page is a must-see if you are interested in fashion, as it has plenty of photos (which unfortunately I cannot reproduce here).

History - Parents Ruin Children... in 1925

According to this, 'sheik' fathers and 'flapper' mothers are ruining their children by running wild and being irresponsible! Those horrible parents refuse to grow up and teach their children proper values! Thank goodness parents have finally learned their lessons, or we'd all be walking around now listening to loud music and wearing skimpy clothes.